Hip-Hop, more than any other genre, has a fascination with prodigy’s, latching onto their mere existence as the savior’s of Hip-Hop, as if it needed any saving. From the likes of Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Badass, and Bishop Nehru, there’s been no shortage of teen liberators attempting to sweep the genre off its feet. However, the one thing all three have in common, and the reason their similarly-aged counterparts Chance The Rapper, Chief Keef, and Tyler, The Creator fail to conjure up their prodigy label, is that with their technical abilities they harken back to a time in Hip-Hop where lyrics rained supreme, taking their inspiration from the wordsmiths of the 90’s. Rather than progressing the genre as the previous three artists have, they stagnate it, becoming engulfed in nostalgia of their childhood in Hip-Hop. MF DOOM, underground mastermind, centers around this trio in a way that makes his music immediately recognizable as a direct influence. Yet, the one artist DOOM chose to collaborate with still has the most to prove. NehruvianDOOM, Bishop Nehru’s first true moment in the spotlight, backed by an impenetrably large presence, should have been his statement to the world that the past can be re-appreciated through the eyes of a savior, yet, above all else, his much-hyped collaboration fails at implanting such an opinion, resorting itself to a quick stepping stone with nothing remarkable to its name.
It’s unfortunate that, ever since the announcement of the record, DOOM’s presence has always overshadowed that of Nehru’s, despite Metal Fingers’ attempts at doing the opposite. Talk on the Internet revolved around the mystical figure’s involvement in the project and his return to the mic and boards, anything but the 18-year old prodigy laminated on the piece. For avid DOOM listeners expectations set on his part were minimal, knowing he’d take more of a mentorship role here. NehruvianDOOM regrettably lacks not because of DOOM’s lack of presence, but more Nehru’s underwhelmingly performance. His flow, voice and style are on point, but the rawness of his lyrics, the blandness of his topics, and the tone deaf ear of his own singing shatter the record from possibly being a start-up for a rapper aspiring for greatness. Take ‘So Alone’ as the case in point. A track about loneliness coming from an 18-year old, sporting one of the worst choruses of the year. While the sentiments are serious, and should be taken as such, the uniqueness is forgone. Providing nothing else to the backdrop than his plainly spoken tale of desolation matched with an equally depressing beat, the track itself becomes entirely one-dimensional.
Examples of this one-dimensionalism are found in abundance elsewhere too. ‘Mean The Most’ sees our lead pouring out his heart for his love, citing that “to me you mean the most baby, you already know.” Ok, then why write a song about it if she already knows? This, ‘So Alone,’ and others reek of teen angst mixed with his self-supposed superiority in which the ways of the world have been revealed to him at such a young age. All this coming from a rapper who Nas claimed was “the future of music” seems incredibly trite. However not all is lost here. While Bishop fails to impress lyrically at nearly every stop, contributing nothing that would take repeated listens to understand, there are moments where his style melds nicely with DOOM’s branded beats. Whether by coincidence, these seem to be the tracks where Metal Face himself is featured as well. ‘Om’ best showcases both rappers talents here with DOOM instituting a hook, something rarely seen on his songs. His voice, disrupting the constant Nehru presence, splits up the two nicely, allowing for both to breathe. On ‘Om’ Bishop questions his rise to fame, concerned over his future, only to qualm his nerves using positive reinforcement, or meditation.
While there are bright spots in terms of content, the placeNehruvianDOOM succeeds the most is, sadly not in Nehru’s favor, DOOM’s beats, which don’t break new ground, but sound fresh for instrumentals that could have easily been placed on his Special Herbs series. ‘Coming For You’ is ominous and menacing, while ‘Darkness’ adds a jolting trumpet throughout the verses reminiscent of an early 90’s baller anthem. ‘Great Things’ bounces and glides, creating a melody of its own for both artists to effortlessly rhyme across, and ‘Disastrous’ sounds like an outtake from Mm…Food? with vocal samples joyfully crooning throughout. Per typical DOOM-status skits are thrown within songs in an attempt to create the comic book feel the rapper aims to achieve. With many of them simply appending themselves to the conclusions of tracks, some lasting far past their prime, they become more a nuisance, rather than the intended addition of cohesion. Including the introduction, which is entirely a skit, the total time of off-rhyming content exceeds eight minutes, pulling the already paltry 31-minute album down to roughly 23, a number so low that NehruvianDOOM should have well been considered an EP. Above all else, this predetermined path of cohesion that DOOM undertakes with his skits and like-minded beats fails to translate with Nehru topically-speaking, with little semblance occurring between tracks, and especially with the overall message, of which I still have yet to find. Ranging from existential crisis to love triangles to depression to fame, the content of NehruvianDOOM seems scatter-brained, especially for an artist aiming to make an impact in today’s world. Once again, it seems this collaboration would have been better suited for an EP, a collection of tracks that need no link amongst them. Bishop Nehru, in his most pivotal, immensely scrutinized moment fizzles in nearly every aspect, ruining his opportunity with the NY legend in creating a magical debut, instead falling back on a chance for stardom with many sure to lose immediate interest in his climb.NehruvianDOOM is a record with few bright spots, all of which are highlighted by the mentor, with a bevy of lows, carried by Hip-Hop’s self-appointed savior, who ceases to be anything but average.